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Walking Practices with/in Nature(s) as Ecopedagogy in Outdoor Environmental Education: An Autophenomenographic Study

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posted on 2023-01-19, 11:40 authored by Genevieve Blades
Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the School of Education, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia.

Walking in nature is an integral part of outdoor education in many countries, yet its ecopedagogical qualities and characteristics remain under-researched. Ecopedagogy is an emergent theory and practice in environmental education research. This study sought to (re)discover the sensory and affective dimensions of learning in the outdoors as a walking ecopedagogy. In the context of outdoor education that has centred the human and rendered nature as background only, this study critiqued the patriarchal, instrumental, and commodified orthodoxies of outdoor education. Within this context, the research problem was to interpret and understand the nature of walking as an embodied practice in various scapes of nature. Having the twofold purpose of decentring the human and centring nature, the embodied analysis aimed to place the more-than human at the centre in order to demonstrate an environmentally embedded walking practice as ecopedagogy. The study required a methodology to access the lived and felt, embodied, sensorial and enigmatic qualities of walking in different (land)scapes in nature. An autophenomenographic methodology was used within an eco-phenomenological conceptual frame. In doing so, the research problem was sharpened by disaggregating it into three research questions: ‘What is afforded and felt whilst walking in Nature(s)?’; ‘How and in what ways is (self-)meaning made from an affecting/sensing body whilst walking in Nature(s)?’; and, ‘How and in what ways do inter/intra–acting walking bodies construct relationships with/in various Natures?’ These three questions provided empirical and conceptual ‘layers’ for describing, interpreting and explaining the embodied nature of walking in sampled (land)scapes. The research questions were reassembled to highlight ecopedagogical processes of walking with/in scapes of nature as a practice theory of a walking ecopedagogy. The findings revealed how walking in/as time-space movement is afforded affectively, sensorially and (eco)somaesthetically with/in the sampled scapes of nature. These intersubjective/corporeal inter/intra-actions occurred immanently with/in wider and deeper ecologies. This empirical evidence of the embodied nature of walking in nature advances the theoretical interests of ecophenomenology in outdoor environmental education. In particular, the embodied and ecosomaesthetic qualities of the movement experience of walking with/in nature(s). The findings also contribute to the conceptual, empirical, and methodological development of ecopedagogy in the nascent field of outdoor environmental education.

This thesis was a recipient of the Nancy Millis Award for theses of exceptional merit.

History

Center or Department

College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce. School of Education.

Thesis type

  • Ph. D.

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded

2019

Rights Statement

This thesis contains third party copyright material which has been reproduced here with permission. Any further use requires permission of the copyright owner. The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over all o.ther content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

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